Tips Of The Trade

In The Beginning

In new houses ready for their first re-decoration the emulsion on the ceilings and walls won’t have vinyl in it and as such the existing paint will have marked easily.

It is also quite common to see many nails which have “popped.” These are easily filled. Brown marks on wood should be treated with knotting and any cracks around doors, windows and skirting boards should be filled with decorator’s caulk. All woodwork should be sanded first, even if it is smooth, as a key needs to be formed prior to painting.


As a general rule, I believe that wood work starts to feel “loved” once it has been painted for the third time. The fibres of the wood need to be filled with paint, hardened off and then be sanded down between each re-decoration.

Preparation, time and patience are vital for good decorating. 60 minute makeovers are only for TV!!


Top brands like Crown, Johnstone and Dulux are all of a similar acceptable quality.

Trade Paint or DIY Equivalent?

If you go to your local DIY store you will see many varieties of Crown and Dulux lining the shelves. This is usually DIY paint. Although you pay a little more for Trade Paint it usually works out cheaper as it provides better coverage and has a greater capacity to cover dark colours in fewer coats, largely due to more pigment been added to the formulation. Pigment provides both colour and determines the covering power of a paint. You will also be able to achieve a better quality finish with a Trade Paint.

At your local DIY centre your chosen colour can usually be mixed into a Trade Paint, just ask.

Farrow and Ball in my opinion is the best paint available but quality comes at a price. At around 50% above the prices of top brand paints, using Farrow and Ball can add 10% to the cost of professional decorating.

Types of Paint

Doors and other woodwork

For doors and other woodwork, the two main finishes are Gloss and Satin Finish. Gloss is a shiny finish were as Satin Finish is a semi sheen finish. I estimate 90% of interior work is now with water based satin finish.

Water based satin finish has made traditional oil based almost obsolete as they:

  • Have very little odour
  • Dry quickly
  • Do not yellow like oil based paints


For re-decoration make sure that the emulsion has a vinyl in it. Without it durability will be compromised.

For ceilings or walls there are two main finishes. Vinyl Silk, this is shiny, can be cleaned more easily but brush marks can be seen. Vinyl Matt, this is a flat finish, is not so easy to clean but is easy to touch up, brush marks are less likely to be seen.

Lining Paper

Traditionally lining paper is for use under wall paper. This is something I would always recommend.

Over recent years, by using a 1200 grade lining paper on walls and ceilings, many customers have found this to be an ideal surface to then emulsion over. This solution is especially ideal on older properties. It creates a solid surface and at the same time enhances the character of the walls and ceilings.


The following is a guideline for the cost of wallpaper and what you can expect in terms of quality.

Price per roll:

Up to £12 a roll – you will be lucky to get an adequate wall paper.

£12 to £25 a roll – you should get an adequate quality paper.

£25 to £50 a roll – you are getting into good quality off the shelf wall paper.

Over £50 a roll – very nice quality and original.

NB: Even with the more expensive wall paper there can still be faults on the paper.

When hanging either lining paper or wall paper I always use Solvite paste.


A common issue is that of a crack appearing in between where the wall meets the ceiling. In such situations coving can not only cover over the offending crack but it can also enhance the elegance of a room. Unless you are coving a large room with high ceilings I recommend 100mm (4 inch) covering instead of the 127mm (5 inch) coving.

Common Problems


This is usually seen on older properties especially on exterior walls. You may notice a sponginess below the wall paper and see white on the paper and emulsion. If your property has a damp course you then need to wait for the salt to come out of the walls, if it ever does!

The solution? In many cases there is not really a cost-effective solution. Most people find ways to live with it.


Double glazing, no chimneys and an inability to open windows, all contribute to condensation.

The solution? The use of extractor fans and by opening windows.

Water Stains

Usually caused by a leak, leaving brown marks on walls and ceilings.

The solution? Once the leak is repaired, painting over the stain using a stain block usually prevents the stain coming through subsequent emulsion and wallpaper.


The appearance of damp can be similar to that of condensation but more problematic and expensive to deal with.

The solution? Seek professional advice.

Contact Details

Andy Strangeway


Mobile 07826 439 101

Static 01759 371 798